Introducing the WordPress Providence Meetup
By Jake Goldman
I first considered the idea of a local WordPress meet up back in Fall 2009, when we saw WordPress starting to really pick up steam at our local web shop, C. Murray Consulting. I had enjoyed a couple of the local web dev meet ups started by Andrew Shearer, but I wasn’t sure if WordPress had broad enough appeal for the Providence networking scene.
Then, between speaking gigs at WordCamp Boston this past January, I was greeted by at least 10 fellow Rhode Islanders – and those were just the ones who sought me out. They included fellow consultants, developers at local universities, bloggers / journalists, and even small organizations and sole proprietors interested in WordPress as a platform for getting their word out. Not least among this passionate crowd were Suzanne McDonald, a writer/journalist who had recently moved to Newport, and Ken DeBlois, a member of Brown University’s web services team.
Sue and I met again at South County Open Coffee. We started chatting about WordPress and online publishing, and before we knew it, a couple of other attendees’ were sharing their WordPress questions and stories with us. These experiences reminded me that WordPress interest and passion wasn’t just limited to the usual tech and geek circle, but was compelling to casual writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs outside of the “usual” tech networking circles. When I asked Sue and Ken if they would be interested in co-organizing a meet up, they eagerly agreed.
There are an estimated 20 million WordPress users, and Rhode Island (along with the bordering MA towns) is not immune to its popularity. RI Nexus favorites Providence Geeks blog and Maker Faire RI website are both WordPress powered, as are popular hyper-local websites like the Providence Daily Dose and Greater City Providence. Our own repertoire of local WordPress clients is as diverse as a local university and hospital all the way across to some small partnerships and 2-3 person businesses. And I know our story is not unique among local web shops.
On Monday, we launched the Providence WordPress Meetup website (and Twitter account: @WordPressPVD), and announced our first gathering: Monday, April 26th, at 6 pm, at McFadden’s. In addition to networking and a chance to pick the brains of fellow attendees, Providence startup DandyID will be our first speaker. DandyID’s WordPress plug-in has been downloaded over 30,000 times, and has been hailed by outlets like Mashable as a top solution for integrating your social identity with WordPress. Oh, and did we mention free drinks for the first 15 attendees, courtesy the first sponsor?
Within one day of announcing the meet up, between email, Twitter, and our RSVP comment thread, we received a dozen “likely” or “yes” responses – not including our speaker or the 3 organizers. I’m looking forward to meeting people like Tom Flanagan, who runs the Residential Properties blog, Michael Dietsch, who runs a lively cocktails / spirits blog and writes for a column for Edible Rhody, and Melinda Rainsberger, who’s WordPress powered portfolio is filled with rich visuals.
Whether you’re a WordPress developer, developer wannabe, blogger, business owner, or you’re just curious about WordPress, this is your meet up. Won’t you join us?